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BOSTON (AP) — Bill Russell never had to find his voice as an activist. He didn’t know any other way but to speak his mind.

It's what made the winningest athlete in team sports one of the greatest champions of activism. His belief in equality and the stances he took helped create a pathway that athletes today continue to walk in.

Len Elmore, who played 10 seasons in the NBA and is a senior lecturer at Columbia University where he’s taught on athlete activism and social justice in sports, called Russell’s social contributions “immortal.”

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